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For a “very international-minded” guy who studied history at Princeton, Stone is remarkably uninformed about how despots are removed from power. It is almost always necessary to remove them by military force or being pushed, since they tend not to relinquish power simply out of the goodness and generosity of their own hearts.
Iran arrested filmmaker Jafar Panahi and banned him from making films because he criticized the regime. Another Iranian filmmaker, Mazdak Taebi, has been banned from Iran because of his anti-regime statements. Presumably Stone thinks these filmmakers are overreacting and should have waited for the regime to evolve at its own pace. “This is insulting,” Taebi said of Stone’s willful blindness. “So many people have died. People there are shaking. They’re scared. It’s a police system.”
Stone said that while in Tehran, he saw graffiti that read, “Death to America.” This seems like a rather straightforward declaration, but Stone’s interesting theory is that it was not meant to be taken literally. “Because it’s emotional,” he explained. “It doesn’t have the meaning you think it does. It’s not political expression.” He didn’t elaborate on what other meaning “Death to America” could possibly have, but he was quick to dismiss Americans who question his pro-regime interaction. “That’s stupid. There should be cultural dialogue with every country,” he said.
That sounds great in principle, but Stone is the ignorant one – the United States has been attempting to carry on a dialogue with the intransigent Iranian regime for decades – even during the years when George W. Bush was decried for his supposed lack of diplomacy. Iran is interested in dialogue with other countries only as a delaying tactic to keep them from interfering with its power-aggrandizing agenda. And Iran is interested in the work of only those filmmakers who are willing to publicly whitewash its domestic crimes and international acts of war.
Moving on to his own agenda, Stone declared, “I would like to introduce Persian culture and civilization to the West” through his future films. He could start by re-introducing Persian culture to the Muslim fundamentalists who rule the country, as Islam has a habit of obliterating the indigenous culture of any land it conquers. Since the Khomeini revolution of 1979, Iran’s Islamic theocracy has waged a systematic campaign of wiping out any trace of pre-Islamic Persian cultural heritage, including archaeological sites.
If Sean Stone truly cared about Persian culture, he would protest the regime’s erasure of it, as well as the violent suppression of the people suffering under its thumb. Or he can simply follow in his father’s footsteps and serve as another useful Hollywood idiot for the enemies of freedom and human rights.
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